Things fall apart; controversy surrounding memo exposes cracks in IEBC

September 8, 2017 9:22 am
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After news of Chebukati’s memo to Chiloba broke, five of the Commissioners distanced themselves from it/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 8 – Five commissioners have disowned a memo by electoral commission Chairperson Wafula Chabukati demanding an explanation from commission Chief Executive Officer, Ezra Chiloba, over the mismanagement of the August 8 presidential elections.

Led by Commission Vice Chairperson Consolata Nkatha, the commissioners said the said memo, dated September 5 but leaked to the media on Thursday,  was not discussed in the plenary and therefore it was not sanctioned by the commission.

“We wish to clarify that the contents of the said memo were not discussed and sanctioned by the Commission Plenary. The Commissioners came to know of the memo through the media like everyone else,” a statement sent to newsrooms Thursday evening stated.

Nkatha, alongside commissioners Yakub Guliye, Paul Kurgat, Boya Molu and Margret Mwachanya also discredited the issues raised in the 12-point memo as nonfactual and misleading.

“A quick perusal of the memo shows that the allegations are based on some report or information that has not been brought to the attention of the Commission. Most of the issues raised are not factual and could easily mislead if taken out of context,” the five pointed out.

READ: Fireworks at IEBC as Chebukati demands answers from Chiloba

They however said that the Commission’s secretariat was preparing responses to the issues raised in the memo, responses which will be tabled before the Commission Plenary for appropriate action.

The commissioners assured of IEBC’s commitment to holding a credible presidential election on October 17 in line with the law and orders of the Supreme Court which nullified the August 8 election on September 1.

“Our commitment is to ensure that a credible process is held in line with the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court in its brief judgment. We invite all Kenyans to stand by the Commission as it carries out this mandate,” they noted in the statement.

Reports of boardroom wars in Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) emerged on Tuesday, following Chebukati’s appointment of a six-member team tasked with the oversight of the fresh presidential election.

At the time, sources indicated that a majority of the commissioners were not consulted – with the designation of the Deputy Commission CEO in charge of Support, Marjan Hussein Marjan, as the Project Coordinator of the Chebukati-six – seen as a deliberate attempt to sideline Chiloba.

Fears of a looming crisis in IEBC were further cemented on Wednesday when Bloomberg Politics quoted Commissioner Roselyn Akombe as having said that some staffers had declined to resign.

“In a normal democracy, people would have introspected; they would have opted to step aside. They have failed to do that. They have refused,” Akombe was quoted as saying.

The Jubilee Party through its Secretary General Raphael Tuju had contested the appointment of the six-member team terming officials who comprised it as partisan.

In a letter to Chebukati on Wednesday, Tuju described Marjan, Salome Oyugi (Manager – Political Parties and Campaign Financing), Decimah Mmayi (Director Research and Development) and Joyce Ekuam (Voter Education Manager) as partisan officials; the ruling party questioning their ability to oversee the polls.

Others named by Tuju in the letter were Chrispine Owiye, Joseph Ayatta, Tabitha Mutemi, Limus Onyango and Caroline Manyange.

Following a meeting with IEBC on Thursday, Tuju said the party will not engage in talks with the Commission in the exclusion of their opponents, the National Super Alliance (NASA).

Tuju who was responding to an invitation extended to him by Chebukati on Wednesday told the press that Jubilee had recommended an all-inclusive meeting where all stakeholders shall discuss pertinent issues touching on the fresh presidential poll.

“As Jubilee Party in the interest of transparency we would only wish to discuss in substantive discussions in the presence of NASA because we do not want a situation to emerge that there are things we discussed secretly and the Commission has obliged to our request for joint meetings,” Tuju said accompanied by Garissa Township MP Aden Duale and Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki.

“Chebukati has confirmed to us that he is happy with our position and that he will slate the next meeting next week preferably on Tuesday,” Duale commented.

Duale also told reporters after the meeting that Jubilee was comfortable with October 17 – the date gazetted for fresh polls – despite having preferred October 10.

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